A Gift For Dad Not In A Form of Poop: A Rad Dad Box Review

Who likes surprises??

Before becoming a dad, surprises were awesome!

Things like: tickets to see a Raptors playoff game; a new PS4 game; spontaneous weekend trips. These were awesome surprises.

Now surprises usually come in the form of me having to Oxi Clean poop smeared shirts, pants, and onesies.

The Worst Kind of Surprise
The Worst Kind of Surprise

But what if there was something that brought surprises back into a positive light?

There just might be something that turns the tide…a little.

Warning: This post is loooonnnnnnng.

So if you’re looking for the TL:DR version:

This box subscription makes a great gift if you have a dad-to-be in mind, but it could be costly for some people on a budget.

If you stumbled on here looking for a coupon code, I’ll just cut to the chase:

You can use the code “DADMODEON” for 10% off anything from their gift shop.  (Here’s a link to their gift shop website.) However, I highly encourage you to read the rest of the review. ☺️ 

A Pleasant Surprise – Rad Dad Box

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My Box Inspector Checking the Gift

Last month, I was generously sent a sweet gift from a crate subscription company called Rad Dad Box. They asked me if I wanted to do a review on their services and I happily agreed. In a world full of mommy blogs, it was nice for them to approach me with a product that is dad-centric and dad-friendly.

If you’re not too familiar with crate subscriptions services, essentially a company sends hand picked and curated items to subscribers on a recurring schedule. These items typically fall in line with your interests and needs. Yes, there is a subscription fee, but the value you get back typically goes beyond cost.

It’s essentially paying for a personal shopper who will deliver a nice gift of random items once a month.

What makes Rad Dad Box unique?

Their focus is on dads like you and me.

I know moms (deservingly so) get lots of attention, but once in awhile it’s nice for us dads to get pampered.

What type of pampering, you ask?

Well, to get a better idea of what you actually get, here’s a description straight from the source:

The Rad Dad Box is a monthly subscription box containing items to support new dads and their children. We include self-care products, such as soap, deodorant, and hand sanitizer, Dad-themed books and apparel, and Dad-approved toys and products for baby.

Basically, if you don’t have the time or knowhow in purchasing certain items, Rad Dad Box takes care of it for you.

I mean the lack of time and knowhow pretty much sums up my definition as a new dad, so this actually works for me.

What’s inside the box?

At the beginning of my post, I mentioned getting positive surprises. And if you do choose to subscribe, I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you. What I can tell you is that the box I received contained a combination of toys, tools, and essentials for you and your baby.

I won’t go into the items any further, but if you’re really dying to know about one of the items, I’ll reveal one at the end of this post. You’ll find my quick thoughts on one of the items included in the box. So if you really want to know, be sure to read on.

Is It Worth It?

The obvious question here is: is it worth it?

Looking at the cost of it all, here’s a breakdown directly from Rad Dad Box:

The cost of the one-time boxes starts at $20 and goes up to $60. The $60 box is available only as a one-time box. Subscription boxes start from $13/month (for the one-year subscription to Rad Dad Essentials box) and go up to $50/month (for the month-to-month Rad Dad Big Box.)

The box that was sent to me was the Big Box, which was valued at $50/month. Based on my rough estimate of the items that I received, I think it was around the same value.

Beyond trying to figure out the actual value, the thing to consider is that these items are thoughtfully picked with the baby and dad in mind, and that in itself is worth something beyond dollar figures.

Would I personally get it for myself?

Probably not – but the caveat is, I’m pretty cheap and I already have some of these items.  Had I known I would get an assortment of monthly items, I probably wouldn’t have purchased similar items on a regular basis.

Would I get this as a gift for someone?

Absolutely – and the next section explains why!

Who Should Get This?

If I had a friend or a family member who is about to become a dad, I think this would make an awesome gift.

This would also make a great pooled gift from a group of coworkers, if they wanted to chip-in and buy something nice for a for a staff member going on parental leave.

Baby Billboard
Baby Billboard

There’s so much stuff out there to buy for new parents, it can get overwhelming and often times people just don’t know what to get. I remember a few years back when I was tasked with buying a shower gift. I ended up buying a book for the person. I doubt the person even read it, and even if they did, I’m sure they forgot who got it for them as a gift.

At least with the Rad Dad Box subscription, you know you’ll get a variety of items that have been carefully thought out with the dad and baby in mind.

There’s also something nice about receiving a gift that keeps on coming.

Final Thoughts

Being a new dad can be tough.

There are so many things that we have to figure out on the fly, and we are constantly bombarded with new challenges of taking care of a new kid and being a good spouse.

With this new role as dad, we may even feel trapped or isolated. I remember there were times where I needed to take a break and step away from things, and simply think positive.

Besides, I’m tired of mom getting all the attention…it’s about time us dads got a nice gift.

I’m only kidding.

Please don’t put me on a stake.

But seriously though, what’s more fun than getting a surprise gift every once in awhile, not in the form of poop?

I’m not saying getting a box subscription will automatically make being a new dad easier, but having something to look forward certainly helps get your mind out of a rut caused by sleep deprivation.

With that in mind, if you are seeking to purchase a gift for a dad-to be or current dad, I think the Rad Dad Box subscription service would make a wonderful and thoughtful gift.

10% Discount Code

If you really are interested in getting the Rad Dad Box, why not get it at 10% off? Use the code: “DADMODEON” for 10% off on any purchase from their gift shop!

I do not receive commission or any monetary return if you use this code, nor am I affiliated with Rad Dad Box.  I’m simply putting this code out here so that you can save a little money to spend on other things like, potato chips or Netflix.

The Rad Dad Box Item Reveal

If you’ve made it this far into the post, kudos!

As I mentioned in my review, I will reveal and give my thoughts on one of the items.

Without further ado my favourite item from the box was…

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SOAP

SOAP

Yep, soap.

I know it might seem a bit strange, but I don’t remember the last time I was gifted soap. Heck I don’t remember any time that I deliberately purchased soup.

Growing up, I just used whatever soup was available. And even now, I just use whatever’s on sale.

As much as I love smelling like Terry Crews, I actually prefer something a bit more unique than Old Spice. The “suds! Bath and Body” soap bar that came from the box was something that I thought was a great item to receive.

Maybe this is a little TMI, but when you’re a dad, the toilet and shower is your sanctuary. Sometimes you just need that tiny escape. What better way to heighten your escape-imagery, than to use a uniquely scented bath and body soap?

I won’t get into too much of the smell, but the soap has a subtle tea leaves and wood smell that I really liked.

So yes, soap.

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I hope you enjoyed this post and the photos in this post. If you are interested in seeing more XT-2 photos or my other photos (I also shoot with a Canon 6D and FujiFilm X100T), do check out my Instagram feed where I post daily.

Thanks again for reading this review, now if you excuse me I have to toddler to chase. 🙂

Breaking Our Hermit Shell

I would categorize my wife and I as hermits. Sure we used to go on spontaneous trips (hello Iceland), go see the occasional show, and we were pretty big on food. But when it came to maximizing our weekends, we normally preferred the lazy route by donning our PJs and staying in.

But since our daughter coming into our lives, we’ve been shockingly meticulous in planning out our weekends. It reminds me of when we had our dog and frequently forced ourselves to plan excursions to pet festivals and dog parks.


The inner-hermit in me initially didn’t like it at first, but ever since going to the Toronto Islands last week, a switch just came on inside.


To us it’s just another visit to a place, but to her it’s a completely new experience. She’s basically a life-experience sponge right now, and if we don’t fill it up with a variety of things, I feel like it’s a wasted opportunity.


The moment I realized this was when we finally arrived and sat under a tree to feed her. And by looking at her, I was able to see the reflection of trees and clouds in her eyes as she was trying to process what she was seeing.


Waiting for her first ferry, in deep thought.

That made me realize that this was the first time I fed her in a park on a sunny day, and this was the first time she was able to look up at the clouds and the sky and process what she was seeing.


By how distracted she was, I could also tell that she was trying to take it all in.


That was kind of incredible for me, and her look is something that I will never forget or take for granted.

A while back, while cleaning, I found some faded photos of my parents in the 70s taking my brother to a park when he was a few months old. To me it was a shock to see my parents so young, and it immediately made me wonder what was going on in their mind back then.


So if Charlie ever wonders the same one day, this is what I was going on in my head:


Prior to having a kid, I knew that it would be up to us parents to teach and show her what life has to offer. But this kid, at just over six months just proved to me that I have just as much to learn as a parent too.

After eight hours, three bottles, two ferry rides, two miniature horses sightings, and one carousel ride later, she and both her mom and dad had a crazy day of firsts.


And this hermit of a father, is looking forward to the next adventure.


At first glance this appears to be a sweet photo of me carrying Charlie, but the truth is I’m wiping her drool off of my chin with her bib. Nonetheless I’m one proud daddy. ?

A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on

How Our Disabled Dog Prepared Us To Be Parents

Okay I need to confess something: So far this parenting gig is pretty awesome.

Sure the first month was a nightmare, and my wife went through some heavy stuff early on.

I know I might have just jinxed it, but lately things have been pretty great. I love being a dad, and we love being parents.

I mean, just look how happy I look here:

You can see how much I love being a dad in her expression.
You can see how much I love being a dad from her expression.

Prior to having a kid, we were warned that once you have a kid, your life changes. Your world will revolve around them and your every free moment will belong to them. I really do see this point, and I think this is the part that takes the most getting used to for new parents.

For my wife and I however, this is not something that we haven’t faced before even prior to being married. In fact, for us adjusting to a baby came pretty natural, and it could be because had a little more practice compared to other new parents.

Practice in the form of a dog.

Yes, I know how taboo (and annoying) it can be when dog owners who don’t have kids compare having a dog to having kids.

I mean essentially you pick up their poop, bathe them, feed them, teach them to roll over, pretty much the same right?

But before I get put on a stake by an angry mob for my outrageous statement, please hear me out. As well, please allow me to dedicate this post to my dog, Owen.

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So let me start by going back a few years, where my pants were too baggy, and my hair was too long, and we were unknowingly put to the test for parenthood…

Sunday, November 9, 2008

We were playing fetch on a field with our dog Owen when suddenly he stumbles and somersaults while chasing after a tennis ball.

Dogs do not somersault. Their bodies just don’t bend that way. It’s almost as weird as us humans walking on all fours; it just doesn’t seem right.

I slowly walk towards him, thinking it was just another silly spill from our silly dog. I mean, this our three year old super puppy; who runs faster than the other dogs, jumps higher than an eight foot fence. He’ll just get back up and forget he even tumbled.

But something was wrong. He wasn’t getting up.

My mind went numb, and the slow walk towards him became a sprint. You know those moments when the volume in your head tunes out, and things go in slow motion? I was in one of those moments.

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Not the actual picture of the incident, here he’s much older and recovered

Our puppy looked up at me with two of his front legs holding himself up, and gave me this “What’s going on?” expression.

As I picked him up to rush him back to the house, I remember thinking, “Shit it’s a holiday, what do we do? Where do we take him?”

36 hours and two emergency veterinary clinics later, we learned that our dog had lost function from the hip down. It could be for just a few days, a month, or longer.

What. The. Hell.

Prior to our dog getting hurt, our stresses consisted of silly arguments and disputes that normal young couples fight over. Silly things like where should we go eat, what do you want to watch, etc.

As abrupt as he got injured, we were now talking about the cost of x-rays, MRIs, slings, wheelchairs, rehab, etc.  To quote a popular phrase during that era: “Shit just got real.”

Our daily lives and schedules were now devoted to our dog: carefully walking him, doing physio/exercise, making sure he ate quality food, taking him to frequent vet visits, etc.  In a sense, he really embodied a baby.

My then girlfriend (now wife) and I suddenly became more than just a couple. We now were now responsible for a dog with special needs. We were caregivers, but above all else, that was when we learned that we could count on one another to make things work no matter how tough things get. Dare I say, that was when I realized that one day, I know I can count on her to look out for me and our family.

Because he was injured, it not only brought us closer to each other, but also learn to split love and responsibility onto something else. And this is the practice that I was talking about.

I wrote this in a journal soon after the endeavour:

I am very fortunate not to be going through such an experience alone, as I am very grateful to have Jenn along the way. Every fear, every setback, every direction to go has been shared and experienced with Jenn, and I feel very lucky to have her through all of this. Even though she is Owen’s main owner, as he lives with her, I deeply feel that we’re in this together equally and wholeheartedly.

The past few days have allowed me to fully be confident of dark situations because I’m with Jenn. I’m so glad to be with her.

First off, I was a much better writer then compared to than I am now. Second, I think this was the turning point for me for a lot of things in life as it allowed me to understand what it means to share a responsibility, and share a life with someone. ☺️

Slowly he was able to recover and after two years he ended up recovering most of his movement, only requiring to wear one boot on one of his hind leg. And through countless Tony Stark-like boot prototypes (I think we had seven variations in total) he was a healthy happy dog who got to enjoy a full life as a dog. 

This boot design was "Mark VI"
This boot design was “Mark IV”

We were lucky to have him for another seven health years, and it’s been almost two years since he left us. I sincerely think because of his injury, we were better prepared for our journey into parenthood, which eventually lead to this:

Notice that the baby aisle is also the pet aisle?
Notice that the baby aisle is also the pet aisle?

So there you have it, I hope you’re not angry with my sentinent about dogs and babies, but our dog certainly helped us become who we are as parents. If there is a doggy heaven and he somehow managed to learn to read, I want to say thank you pup, you taught us to become parents before we even knew it.

One final takeaway from this is that I now believe that every stage of life or situation prepares you for the next in some serendipitous way, I know the struggle of taking care of our disabled dog certainly helped us as new parents. At least that’s a better way to think about things when life gives you a ruff situation.

(Phew, I`m glad I was able to slip that one in.)

 

A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on

Stay awesome pup-pup.


Wood Watch Review

It Took Becoming A Parent To Realize My Parents Were Amazing

Let me start with this photo:

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Yep – That’s Me Playing Air Guitar for my Birthday Party

That’s me when I was seven years old, enjoying a fantastic birthday party with a bunch of my grade 2 friends. On the surface, it may not seem like a big deal. But thinking about it more recently, it actually means a whole lot being one of the few Asian families in my community.

Notice that I said Asian and I wasn’t specific to Chinese, well when you are in such a predominantly Caucasian community, you are simply lumped together. This is not a shot of the people in the town, but rather there just weren’t too many Chinese (let alone Asian) families in the town of less than 10,000. So a little bit of ignorance is understandable.

In fact, I was mistaken for an Aboriginal kid on numerous occasions. So really no harm, no foul.

Basically I was the token Chinese/Japanese/Korean/Filipino Kid of the group
Basically I was the token Chinese/Japanese/Korean/Filipino Kid of the group

Knowing this, I now sense that my parents probably went through even greater obstacles as new immigrants, in learning about a completely new culture. Because of that, the fact that they were able to put together this birthday party with pizza, video games, balloons, and loot bags was truly amazing.

They had the “just make it work mentality” and this is something I, now as a parent, must figure for my daughter.

I can only image the amount of stress they must have went through to plan and execute uprooting our family from Hong Kong to Hinton, Alberta.

And for that I am grateful.

It’s hard enough for my wife and I to plan out a day at a zoo, let alone flying across the world to start a new life. Apparently they shipped a large container of furniture by sea to Edmonton, and drove a freight into the small town.

What’s even a crazier is the fact that they did hardly knowing any English.

Perhaps I should’ve realized this sooner – I mean should it really take becoming a father for me to really clue in on how tough it must have been for my folks?

But I suppose that’s one of the magical features that come with having your own kid:

When you have a kid, you not only learn how to be a parent, but you learn how your parents were as parents.

More likely than not, you learn that your folks are kind of amazing.

Regardless of timing, I just feel that I needed to share this and advertise that my parents were pretty awesome.

I hope that one day I will be able to do at least half of what they’ve done for me and my brother, for my daughter. If I can do that, she’ll be a pretty lucky girl.

Pretty Awesome Folks
Pretty Awesome Folks

Dear Me From One Year Ago

Dear Me from One Year Ago,

 

If you are reading this your life will change in a week. I know by now both you and your wife have been trying to conceive without success. I want to tell you both to not lose hope. By now both of you have learned that getting knocked up is not as easy as it seems like on TV and in movies, and both of you probably feel pretty down on yourselves.

Don’t worry.

In one week when your wife goes to the doctor to check up on pelvic pain, you’ll both realize that she did not pull or strain anything, and that it’s really her lady parts doing some Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for a new inhabitant.

 

Yep that's your kid
Yep, that’s you holding a photo of your kid

Sorry to spoil the surprise a little but hear me out: Your life is about to change as things will never be the same, but the funny thing is, things will also feel so right.

Let me get some things out of the way. Your hometown Raptors will get swept in the playoffs, so don’t waste time there. I mean still cheer, but just know that it’s not the end of the world when the Wizards dismantle your team. The only significant thing about the playoffs is that you’ll find out she’s pregnant in at the doctor’s office while you stream the game with headphones on. The wife will come out, and give you a look that you’ll never forget.

Remember and savour that moment as I still do.

From the moment you find out, you’ll go through a lot of changes. Not nearly the same as your wife, but enough for you to realize that pregnancy is truly a shared experience.

For starters you will become the food police. Seriously, everything your wife puts in her mouth you’ll do a quick google search to see if it’s poisonous for her and the baby. My advice is to be reasonable but firm.

You’ll also learn that your wife will have crazy food swings, and get this: she’ll hate eating chicken. WTF right? How can she hate chicken? That’s your favourite animal!!! It’s just the hormones man. So stop reading and get an order of Popeyes in your system while you still can, cause the next nine months you can put a hold on eating poultry.

You’ll also buy a lot of crap. I mean a lot. Some stuff you didn’t even know existed. But don’t fret, most of the junk you buy is actually useful, so just smile and nod when she asks you if it’s okay to buy whatever. When you are shopping just don’t forget to have fun along the way. I know you will…I mean check this out:

Dad-to-be testing...oh geez.
You’ll make shopping fun…and embarrassing

Yep, you’ll still pull crap like this…And even though I’m warning you not to be an idiot, I know you’ll make it a goal to definitely do it.

Oh one final thing about buying stuff: your baby will be a little bit bigger, so just ease off on the newborn stuff.

So far, things sound okay, right? Well, here’s where you need to pay a little closer attention as I’m warning you now, not everything is as light-hearted and peachy.

You yourself will grow up more. I know you may think that you already know everything there is to know and that you are already mature. But something inside you will change, and you will somehow become more appreciative of life. You will appreciate your wife more, and definitely appreciate mom and dad more than ever. This is because you will begin to think like a parent and understand what they went through.

You're going to want to get comfortable searching on your phone on your back
You’re going to want to get comfortable searching for stuff on your back

What does “thinking like a parent” mean? Basically you’ll begin to worry about things. A lot of things. You’ll have some insecurities about your role as a husband and father. You’ll have many nights of waking up and googling answers. You will dig though forums and message boards to see whether what your wife is experience is common. Let me tell you this, the more you read into it, the worse it becomes. But you have a big role in all of this. The thing is you need to keep your wife sane and calm during those moments, so be the strong, calm, optimistic husband that you are.

Weeks 6, 8, 20, and 25 will be scary and both you and your wife will go through some heavy stuff. But just know that after each of these episodes, your bond with your wife will become even stronger, and both of you will be able to talk and laugh about these moments eventually. I’ll spare you the details, but you’ll quickly learn that pregnancy is f*cking scary.

You’ll also figure out that most people who share great news about pregnancy on social media are not trying to brag about their happiness, but rather they are simply celebrating all of the little triumphs after facing the scary moments.

 

Your perspective will change and you’ll never fear and doubt so much in your life, but that’s just the process of it all. Just protect your wife and yourself, and the rest will take care of itself.

This was me in NYC, ditching the wife to do a photo shoot. I will never live this down.
That’s you, and the last cool thing you’ll do in a while. Thank your wife for letting your ditch her for this.

You know how you think you’re so cool in taking street photos? Well that part of your life will draw to an end. Bummer right? Well not quite, you’ll quickly find a new photography outlet, and trust me: it’s wonderful. And if you’re not convinced, let me tell you this: you’ll have a last hurrah so to speak with taking pictures. In fact, you’ll ditch your pregnant wife to go to New York for something photography related, and it will be one of your best moments but also one of your tougher moments. You know what I said about appreciating your wife? You will really appreciate her after this, so never forget it even if she eventually does.

One thing I want to warn you about is to go to the movies while you still can. I can tell you that the last movie you’ll watch before becoming a dad will totally be worth it, and your wife will make it through the entire movie. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Han Solo. (Oops spoiler). Just relax and try to watch the movie without worrying that her water will break. It’ll still be a few days until it really happens.

Here’s a warning though, it might be a good idea to stock up on spicy Korean noodles around the time she’s due. Just saying.

At this point you are probably wondering about the finish line. Well, let me just tell you that your wife will have a smooth labour and delivery. However, both of you will be faced with some complications after the delivery. It’ll be scary, and both of you will be tested. Just know that you’ll both tough it through. Simply trust in your love for your wife, and trust in your strength as a husband. I know you hate asking for help, but you will need to swallow your pride and ask for help. So just face it now: your family and friends will pull through, huge.

I know what I told you sounds frightening, but I am not trying to scare you or warn you to change course.

As a matter of fact the journey you are about to embark on is totally worth it.  As I type this now both your wife and baby are sound asleep and everything just feels right. There’s no better feeling than what I am feeling right now, and I’m damn excited for what you are about to face in the coming year.

Enjoy every moment you are about to experience, because in one year’s time you would want to remind yourself all the awesome you just went through.

Sincerely,

You From One Year Later Today

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P.S. For whatever reason you’ll deciding that “growing” a “beard”  is a great idea. Well this photo might convince you otherwise:

Don't kid your self
Don’t kid yourself Wolverine, use that razor.